Category Archives: Personal

What I Learned at my First Protest

Circus Protest
Last week, I went to protest the use of animals for entertainment, specifically in the Ringling Brothers Circus. It was my first time going to such a gathering, actually I don’t think I’ve ever been to any event that had protesters at it at all. I was nervous, yet excited. I had planned to go last year, but had come up with excuses not to go at the last minute.

Now, the main purpose of wanting to go was to stand up for the animals that are confined in cages for most of their lives and “trained” with whips and bullhooks, but it was also a huge learning experience for me. I was apprehensive to go at first because I detest confrontation. I avoid it at all costs, so how am I going to tell someone they are wrong for bringing their children to the circus? What if someone came up to me and asked a question I couldn’t answer, or what if there was actual violence? One’s food choices and subsequent support of animal abuse ranks right up there with religion and politics when it comes to heated topics. Did I mention I hate confrontation?

I decided that even if I stood there and held a sign and said absolutely nothing – that was okay. Same with if I went for 15 minutes and left feeling uncomfortable – at least I gave the experience a try.

So, I got to Hershey’s Chocolate World and wondered around a bit aimlessly looking for the meeting spot, until I met Olivia and Barb. They were super friendly, which was comforting. We walked to the spot in front of the Giant Center where people were already lining up and buying programs. The Giant Center has a 10’x10′ square that protesters are allowed to stand in.

I grabbed two signs, one that read ” They perform out of fear” and another that read “Caged and enraged. Whipped for your entertainment” with a picture of a caged tiger. Almost immediately a woman in a pink shirt came up to us (not me directly) and yelled “get a life!”, in a very passionate manner. She had a friend/family member calm her down and tell her “it’s not worth it” or something along those lines. I don’t even think I had picked up a sign yet and was a bit surprised at how angry she was. Not violent in any way, just angry. (Apparently at other showtimes two non protesters had to be escorted away by security for getting out of hand.)

Throughout the time there, some people in the group spoke up that the animals are abused and forced to perform, and that the elephants are being taken out, that the rest of the animals should be too. I felt more comfortable holding a sign and smiling at people. I learned a few things in my short amount of time standing there, one was that a lot of people made eye contact and smiled back. Almost a shocking amount of people. I expected people to either avoid eye contact and ignore us, or possibly to be angry.

Another thing that I noticed was that while a lot of adults did walk a little faster and ignore the group, kids were super curious. Children between 6-12 years old would stand still to read the signs. One girl asked her mom what was going on and the mother just ushered her away. I assume that most of the kids forgot about the people holding the signs out front once they were in the building with all of the lights and excitement, but I hope that it might have sparked some questions.

I heard a few more “get a life” comments throughout the evening, which didn’t bother me, but did make me think. We (Americans as a whole) have the right to protest something that we feel is unfair or unjust. I think the people that make those comments probably feel like they are being told they are wrong and get defensive, but to me, utilizing my right to protest is having a life. I’m standing up for what I believe in, and hopefully educating people who didn’t know that cruelty exists in the circus. One woman said she didn’t want to go in to the show anymore after seeing our signs. Her friends talked her back into it, but maybe it will prevent her from buying a ticket in the future.

Protesting the use of animals in the circus made me feel good. Not pat on the head, hooray for me feel good, but even if one person decided they weren’t going to support animal cruelty in the circus then I made a small change. It made me feel like I can use my voice to speak for those who can’t. Was it the most effective way to make a difference? I don’t know, but I felt called to do something. Will I do it again? Absolutely.

If you’re interested in more information about animals in the circus, here are a few resources, including a list of countries that ban animal circuses. There is no shortage of information out there about the reality of what happens to animals in the circus.

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-circus-animal-abuse

https://www.paws.org/get-involved/take-action/explore-the-issues/circus-cruelty/

http://www.ifaw.org/international/news/which-countries-have-bestworst-records-banning-animals-circuses

http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/RinglingFactsheet.pdf

http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/11/ringing-bros-usda-fine-elephant-abuse

Circus Protest Circus Protest Circus Protest DSC_0599

Circus Protest Circus Protest Circus ProtestCircus ProtestCircus Protest

Thanksgiving Meal Ideas {vegan}

thanksgiving meal ideasThanksgiving can be a really fun or really stressful holiday for vegans. While Thanksgiving is about family and giving thanks, 46 million turkeys are raised just to be slaughtered for this one day. Not to mention the number of undercover videos and charges of animal abuse exposing huge companies like Butterball. I try my best to have a compassionate Thanksgiving. I like having a small “Thanksliving” meal at our house that is completely vegan and cruelty-free. Last year we had a combination of a pre-made Gardein Holiday Roast and a bunch of homemade sides. I’m still debating doing another Gardein roast this year or to do stuffed seitan.

Gardein Stuffed Roast

The following recipes are all either my own recipes, or recipes I’ve tried and would recommend as part of a delicious holiday meal. Whether you are looking to put together a completely vegan spread, or are just looking to make a vegan dish for guests, all of these are guaranteedto please.

And don’t forget to adopt a turkey! This is a Thanksgiving tradition that we started doing 3 years ago. You can adopt up until Nov. 24th and chose email certificate to have it in time for Thanksgiving this year.

Main CoursesDSC_1778

Seitan -Try this one stuffed with shiitakes and leeks.

Harvest Stuffed Portobellos – I made these a few years ago for my mom for Thanksgiving, and we both loved them.

Pot Pie or Shephard’s Pie (I like making the pot pie in a large baking dish instead of ramekins and making drop biscuits for the top)

Pre-made meals like Gardein, Tofurkey, or Field Roast. (We’ve had all of the different Gardein Turk’y varieties and really like them. Just make sure you buy double whatever the serving size says on the package, ie if it says “serves 8” it’s closer to 3-4 real servings.)

Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sides

Veggies and dip – Slice up some veggies and pair with 1 container of Tofutti Sour Cream and vegetable dip packet of your choice.

Mashed potatoes – Use your normal recipe and sub butter with non-dairy margarine and milk for almond/soy milk.

Mushroom Gravy – I usually skip the wine and just add more broth or water.

Cranberry sauce – If you’ve never had real cranberry sauce, give this super simple recipe a try.

Cranberry Sauce

Stuffing – I love stuffing, this is a great basic recipe. I like to throw in cranberries too.

Deviled potatoes – These are really good!

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

“Cheddar” Bay Biscuits

Roasted Veggies

Pumpkin and Corn Curry Soup

Mac and Cheese or this sweet potato mac and cheese

mushrooms8Stuffed Mushrooms

Green Bean Casserole – I do this super simple and roast green beans with minced garlic, onions, and loads of nutritional yeast.

Pumpkin Pie

Desserts

Pumpkin Pie – Make this! It’s simple and amazing.

Cheesecake (or these mini pumpkin cheesecakes)

Apple Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting – This is one of my absolute favorites.

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

Italian Apple Cake – Another Chloe Coscarelli recipe that is out of this world.

Cranberry Orange/Pineapple Bread – Really good!

Cranberry mini loaf

What will you be eating this Thanksgiving? Do you have any family traditions that you do every year?

Core of Gratitude {Yoga Challenge} and My Thoughts on Future Challenges

Core of Gratitude Yoga Challenge
Core of Gratitude Yoga Challenge

This month’s challenge benefits Odanadi, an organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate sexually exploited and trafficked women and children. If there are 50k posts (counted by hashtags), $1000 will be donated, and if we make it to 100k posts, $2000 will be donated. The challenge itself focuses on core strength and flexibility, and as always is geared towards everyone, from complete beginners to the more advanced. There will also be three people who will win a Liforme Yoga Mat. The challenge is hosted by @beachyogagirl and @kinoyoga. Make sure you post every day, tag the hosts. and use the hashtag #coreOfGratitude.

My Thoughts on Participating in Future Yoga Challenges

At the end of last month. I was debating whether or not to continue to participate in Instagram yoga challenges. I’ve been doing them for about a year and a half now, and they’ve been incredibly helpful for kicking my butt into gear and getting more serious about yoga. Yet, I found myself not posting pictures for a few days and having to catch up, which has happened in the past when really busy or traveling, but I didn’t have that excuse this time. I still practice just about every day, but it’s kind of a pain to set up the tripod sometimes and try to get a good picture. It’s getting too cold in the sun room, which has the best light, and the living room has weird shadows depending on what time it is. Sometimes I only have half an hour in the AM or in the afternoon, so I do a quick practice, but then have to take my picture at night before bed. I’m also getting bad about posting them, I usually take a video and then check it/post it later, and sometimes I forget completely. Basically, I love to practice daily, but sometimes it feels like a chore to take a good photo and post it to social media.

I decided I wanted to participate in this month’s challenge because the number of total posts raises money for a charity. Posting a photo is a pretty easy thing to do every day and it could help someone. It’s also really encouraging to be able to look back at my photos and see what progress I’ve made, especially during challenges that work on one specific skill (the back bends, arm balances, and splits challenges all helped me make a lot of progress). The challenges force me to practice things I wouldn’t normally practice some days as well. Lately, I’ve been trying to work on the Ashtanga Primary Series, and I’ve been going slow, and only working to a certain point. I’m trying to master and internalize the practice, but that means I might not make it to handstands or Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose). The challenges force me to practice those poses anyway, which is a good thing. My last reason for wanting to continue the challenges is because they have really helped me, and I would love to inspire someone to practice.

What do you think? Do you participate in social media yoga challenges?

Related Links:

October Yoga Challenge – October Yoga Spice